The Russian military police involvement in the Syrian Civil War began in September 2015, after an official request by the Syrian government for military aid against rebel and jihadist groups. The intervention initially consisted of air strikes against militant groups opposed to the Syrian government, including Syrian National Coalition, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in the Levant) and the Army of Conquest. Russian military advisors and special operations forces were also stationed in Syria. At the end of December 2017, Russia said its troops would be based in Syria permanently. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in October 2017 that the military operation had been thoroughly prepared in advance; he also defined Russia′s goal in Syria as “stabilizing the legitimate power in Syria and creating the conditions for a political compromise.”
An effective part of the strategy to counter rebel groups and jihadists is the presence of a ‘well-trained’ Military Police. Russia’s MP in Syria consists of elements from the Chechen Division, mainly employing Muslims form Moscow’s erstwhile restive province.
The chief of the main directorate of Russian Defense Ministry’s military police, Lt. Gen. Vladimir Ivanovsky, said: “According to the assessments of the leadership of the armed forces, local population, observers, the military police, first of all, have established themselves as a successful structure in conditions of these special objectives of humanitarian mission and peacekeeping operations.”
On the sidelines of a ceremony rewarding Russian soldiers on completion of their service, Ivanovsky said that the Russian military police have earned a good reputation and confidence among civilians. At the same time, due to their exceptional work in the Middle East, they have emerged as a force to reckon with in their endeavor towards preserving law and order. The military police for Syria was created in 2015 as an arm of the Russian Armed Forces. They operate in the Idlib buffer zone and Golan Heights, as well as protect UN aid convoys.
Moscow’s intervention in Syria has aided President Bashar al-Assad to tighten his grip over eastern Syria and maintain law and order in territories recently taken over from rebels. The culmination of the peace process in the Levant, led by Russia is yet to be realized.